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Known as "Solly", he was born into a Jewish family, being one of three sons of Joel Joel (a London tavernkeeper of the King of Prussia), and Kate Isaacs, who was a sister of Barnett Isaacs, later to be called Barney Barnato. Along with his brothersJack and Woolf, he was taken under the wing of Barney Barnato and made a fortune from the Barnato Diamond Mining Company. Within ten years, he had become a millionaire, primarily by buying seemingly worked-out diamond mines in South Africa. On Barney Barnato's death in 1897, Solly became head of the family business, Barnato Brothers. Despite having a keen interest in diamonds, he played a greater role in the gold industry. He established the Van Ryn Deep in 1902, the Government Gold Mining Areas (Modderfontein) in 1910 and the New State Areas in 1918. He acquired control of Langlaagte Estate and Gold Mining Company and Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company from J.B. Robinson and became a director of the Diamond Syndicate.


Solly Joel's interests were wide and varied and included many business concerns. He was also kept busy with his enlarged family's diamond and gold mining interests, activities in brewing, the theatre (the Drury Lane Theatre in London) and railways (the City and South London Railway).


Solly Joel was renowned for being a generous man and he purchased the first motorised ambulance for the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Another example of his generosity was exhibited when the Sol Joel Park, close to his estate, was given to the Corporation of Reading in 1927. The official opening was undertaken by the then Duke of York, who became King George VI and was again an extravagant event.


Solly Joel died in 1931 and immediately his estate and possessions were sold at auction. The Home Stud Farm was sold in 1932 but continued until the 1980s.



 

Maiden Erleigh House, the home of Solly Joel.  

Sadly this magnificent building was demolished in 1960.